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-   -   Dating the Tootsie Roll Pop Wrapper Legend (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=804571)

DPRK 09-13-2016 01:38 PM

Dating the Tootsie Roll Pop Wrapper Legend
 
Most posters here probably know of the Tootsie Roll Pop Indian Wrapper urban legend (the legend being, if you found a child dressed up as a Native American shooting an arrow at a star on a wrapper, you could redeem it for a free pop/bag of pops).

What I'm interested in, and could use folks' help on, is finding the earliest documented mention of this legend.

Snopes and other sources claim that the legend has been around since the 1930s ("The rumor that Tootsie Pop wrappers featuring an Indian can be redeemed for free candy has dogged the Tootsie Roll company since Indian on Tootsie Roll wrapper shortly after the introduction of the chewy-centered lollipops in 1931"), but the earliest actual mention I can find is from a newspaper article in 1985 (Wilmington Morning Star / Wednesday, October 16, 1985, p. 3D)).

The aforementioned Snopes entry lists "Morgan, Hall and Kerry Tucker. Rumor! New York: Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0-14-007036-2 (pp. 63-64)." as a reference. I haven't been able to procure a copy of the book (for those seeking a copy, note that one of the co-author's names is 'Hal Morgan', not 'Hall Morgan' as Snopes mistakenly lists), so if anyone could quote the relevant passage, that would be great.

So my question is where did the claim that the rumor has been around since the 1930s originate? And can anyone provide a documented reference earlier than 1984?

Much obliged for any help.

krondys 09-13-2016 02:59 PM

I haven't seen a Tootsie Pop wrapper in some time, but in my mind's eye it was actually a Native American, not a child dressed as such. Sure was around 30 years ago, so I'm sure it is much older.

ETA: My childhood was spent in South Dakota, so any pop-culture things like that usually had to have been around for quite a while to penetrate that area, FWIW.

sitchensis 09-13-2016 03:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DPRK (Post 19625966)
Snopes and other sources claim that the legend has been around since the 1930s ("The rumor that Tootsie Pop wrappers featuring an Indian can be redeemed for free candy has dogged the Tootsie Roll company since Indian on Tootsie Roll wrapper shortly after the introduction of the chewy-centered lollipops in 1931")

It doesn't answer your question, but the company had 85 years to change the image and chose to keep it.

I remember the rumor from the 80's but I'm sure it was older.

Czarcasm 09-13-2016 03:57 PM

Here is the image, and it looks like a child dressed up like an Indian to me, but YMMV.

mistymage 09-13-2016 04:29 PM

From the 70's and into the 80's our local laundromat (Bett., Iowa) had a candy shop in it and the owners did give you a free lolly if you had a wrapper with the Indian and the star (had to be both). I'm sure they paid the cost of the freebie because more than likely you would continue buying the suckers (and oh, so many other candies ranging in price from a penny to $.75) in the hopes of another freebie. I know it worked on me!

JohnGalt 09-13-2016 04:29 PM

When I was growing up, the legend was that if you stuck the Tootsie Roll Pop stick through the Indian, your wish would come true. This was (also) South Dakota, so I hope it wasn't an anti-American Indian in origin.

I don't think any of those wishes really came true though.

DPRK 09-13-2016 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnGalt (Post 19626396)
When I was growing up, the legend was that if you stuck the Tootsie Roll Pop stick through the Indian, your wish would come true. This was (also) South Dakota, so I hope it wasn't an anti-American Indian in origin.

I don't think any of those wishes really came true though.

I've been collecting anecdotal accounts of the legend for a spell, and this is the first time I've heard of this particular regional variation, thank you for that!

As far as I can tell, the legend emerged through a combination of three factors:

1) Various local merchants would give kids who brought in the special wrapper a free tootsie roll pop as a treat. (This was just an informal tradition, and not any sort of official promotional campaign).

2) Parents would tell their kids who had sent off a letter to Tootsie with the wrapper that they had received a free lollipop, and then add it in themselves, in a basic 'letter to Santa' kind of move.

3) Other candy companies actually did have similar 'send in a wrapper that has a star'-style campaigns.

But this is all gathered through anecdotal accounts. I really would like to find the earliest mention of this, especially given that various sources claim that it has been around for a long-long time.

don't ask 09-13-2016 05:06 PM

Here is an explanation of how the Tootsie Pop mistakenly got conflated with two other companies that, in the same year, offered free product for stars on wrappers.

DPRK 09-13-2016 07:32 PM

What may have further fueled the legend is the fact that Tootsie Rolls did offer giveaways for sending in wrappers (and cash).

For instance, here's an ad from the June 1948 issue of Boys' Life (p. 45) for a beanie hat for "25 cents and any size wrapper from Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Fudge, or Tootsie Pops": https://i.imgur.com/2nvU2jf.jpg.

Or here's another ad, from the February 1948 issue of Boys' Life (p. 41), this time for a 'coon tail "for only 15 c and a Tootsie Roll wrapper": https://i.imgur.com/mgbO88U.jpg.

Note how on the same page, there's another (unrelated) advert for the 'Headquarters for Indiancrafts'.

It's not too hard to see the two ads (and/or other, similar ads) become muddled together in a young boy's mind, adding fuel to the legend.

DPRK 09-13-2016 09:42 PM

In the meantime, just noticed that Tootsie Roll Industries appears to have taken down the "Legend of the Indian Wrapper" letter they used to send out, and instead has replaced it with an entirely new mythology, this time--in a move reeking of PC revisionism--no longer mentioning the 'Indian' at all:

Quote:

Since the creation of the Tootsie Pop in 1931, the meaning and origin of the shooting star on the wrapper has become a topic of discussion and has been in circulation for generations. It has been rumored that local convenience stores used to give a free Tootsie Pop to anyone who brought in a wrapper containing the image of the shooting star. Unfortunately, we do not know how this rumor started and Tootsie Roll Industries has never actually honored this promotion. In fact, the shooting star appears on 1 in every 4 to 6 Tootsie Pop wrappers, just as frequent as the other images appear. However, we do believe the star is a sign of good luck to come.

Mr. Owl informed us that one night he was he was sitting on his branch and he came across a shooting star in the sky. He suggested that we add the shooting star on the Tootsie Pop wrapper to give our fans the necessary luck that may be needed to find out just how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. Over the years, thousands of people have tried and their lick counts have all varied. There have even been studies done to try to figure out the age old question! Do you think you have what it takes? We encourage you to share your lick count to our Tootsie Pop Facebook page for a personalized Clean Stick Award from Mr. Owl himself!

nightshadea 09-13-2016 09:54 PM

when I was a kid in the early 80s it was you got a free one if there was a star on the wrapper......... I never heard of the indian thing ................

Waltzes with Cacti 09-15-2016 08:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DPRK (Post 19625966)
<snip> The aforementioned Snopes entry lists "Morgan, Hall and Kerry Tucker. Rumor! New York: Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0-14-007036-2 (pp. 63-64)." as a reference. I haven't been able to procure a copy of the book <snip>

Amazon sells the book:
http://www.amazon.com/Rumor-Hal-Morg...cker.+Rumor%21

Irishman 09-20-2016 07:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Czarcasm (Post 19626334)
Here is the image, and it looks like a child dressed up like an Indian to me, but YMMV.

Given that all the other images are of kids playing, that seems like a fair interpretation.

pulykamell 09-20-2016 08:41 PM

How widespread was this? Or what time period? I grew up in the 80s and never heard of this legend.

Common Tater 09-21-2016 05:22 PM

I recall my best friend Kevin, explaining the tale in the late 60s or early 70s in rural Iowa, so it must have been widespread. I vaguely recall maybe somebody tried it, without success.

Pai325 09-22-2016 12:40 AM

I can't date the earliest incidence of this legend, but I can say that all the neighborhood kids believed it in the late 50s, so it was common in my Chicago suburb about 60 years ago.

Johnny L.A. 09-22-2016 08:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DPRK (Post 19625966)
Most posters here probably know of the Tootsie Roll Pop Indian Wrapper urban legend...

Actually, upon reading the title I was going to report spam.

DPRK 09-24-2016 08:18 AM

What's fascinating about the wrapper legend is that while there's no shortage of individual testimonies, there seems to be precious little actual written (or otherwise recorded) record.

The legend seems to have spread to kids across the country entirely by word of mouth for 50 years from the 30s to the mid 80s.

If anyone remembers a stray letter to the editor, personal correspondence, a comment on a radio show, anything...

Wallaby 09-25-2016 09:05 PM

I love these old kid-based rumours about 'legally-magic' ways kids can beat the system and big corporations HAVE to give you bonus lollies.

It's come up in Australia recently, because a popular frozen ice-block has ceased production (SunnyBoys). They used to offer Frees - the words were written on the inside of the wrapper. There were a million different theories (from a million different school playgrounds) about how you could tell a FREE just by looking at the outside ('There's a tiny dot above the letter U in SunnyBoy. My brother's mate told me.').

You would always see kids hunting through the freezer section in the lolly shop looking for their particular magic sign/symbol.


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